Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This year has brought a plethora of short releases from Phoenix, Arizona, riff merchants Goya. Late in the Winter, their The Enemy EP (review here) felt like a quick turnaround from 2015’s full-length, Obelisk (review here), but as it turned out, that was just the start of it. June brought a reissue of their 2012 demo, Forever Dead, Forever Stoned, on Totem Cat, and just last month, they released a single with two Nirvana covers, Drain You b/w D-7 (review here), on limited vinyl through their own Opoponax Records. Oh yeah, and they’ve got their own hot sauce too.
Go ahead and blink and the three-piece have another EP coming. With three originals and a Marilyn Manson cover, Goya are back again with Doomed Planet on Oct. 30, once more on Opoponax. They’re also getting ready to hit the studio — same day the EP is out — for a new LP due next year called Harvester of Bongloads. Awfully motivated for a band of such apparent intake. Must be all that mind expansion paying off.
No audio yet, but the PR wire brings Doomed Planet art and details:
Goya to release new EP “Doomed Planet” October 30
Doomed Planet is the third EP from Goya, and their first original material featuring new bassist, Sonny DeCarlo. Coming out on October 30th, Devil’s Night, as a nod to the wanton destruction caused by mankind, This EP features two brand new, epic Goya tracks (“Doomed Planet”, and “Hoof and Bone”), an ambient instrumental track (“Sorrow”), and a Marilyn Manson cover (“Dogma”), continuing the nineties vibe Goya put forth recently with their two Nirvana covers.
“Hoof and Bone” was originally recorded for an upcoming animated film, but was rejected, pushing Goya to record three other tracks to release this EP. Much in the spirit of their first EP, Satan’s Fire, Goya wrote and recorded “Doomed Planet” and “Sorrow” in just a couple of days. In many ways, Doomed Planet is the spiritual successor to Satan’s Fire, using the same general themes of misanthropy and destruction, and evoking similar feelings of darkness through the music.
Goya will be entering the studio to record their third full length, Harvester of Bongloads on the same day that this EP is released. Harvester is set to be released digitally, on vinyl, CD and cassette during Spring 2017 through Opoponax Records.
Goya, Doomed Planet 1. Doomed Planet 09:01 2. Hoof and Bone 10:53 3. Sorrow 02:41 4. Dogma 03:09
Hope your neck is ready for some nod. Phoenix five-piece Grey Gallows are gearing up for a slot this month at Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson, where they’ll play alongside CHRCH, Saint Vitus, The Skull, Witch Mountain and Khemmis, opening the Main Show stage of the venerable gathering’s final day. Not a bad gig to get, but I think if you dig into the band’s video below for “Underlord” from their forthcoming LP of the same name to be released either late this year or early next on Opoponax Records — the label helmed by dudes from Goya — you’ll have to agree their psycho-sludge more than earns that spot.
In the texture and atmosphere of “Underlord,” Grey Gallows convey an ambient dirge that reminds a bit of the spaces that Atala were so able to conjure on their Billy Anderson-produced Shaman’s Path of the Serpent full-length — or, for that matter, what Goya get down with when they’re not off reinterpreting Nirvana tunes — and similar to their stage compatriots at Southwest Terror Fest, by no means is that bad company to keep stylistically. Seems there’s strange things brewing in the desert these days as people begin to ask themselves what’s next after all this riff rock and druggery. It’s a dark swirl that Grey Gallows ignite, but I think you’ll still get a depiction of wide-open spaces through that, and of course the video mirrors that idea.
More background follows the clip below.
Grey Gallows, “Underlord” official video
GREY GALLOWS / UNDERLORD
Here it is! Our first video for our title track from our upcoming release “Underlord” on Opoponax Records coming out late 2016- early 2017. Huge thanks to Matt Gibson for making this video for us, Simon Lee for starring in it and Andy for letting us film at Krusty Palmz. Enjoy!
From the album “Underlord” available on Opoponax Records late 2016-early 2017. Video by Matt Gibson.
Formed in early 2015, Grey Gallows set out to create heavy and aggressive tunes. Here is the proof of all the riffing and beer drinking.
Joe Distic-Guitar Cat-Guitar Lee-Bass Shane-Drums Zue Byrd-Vocals
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Arizona heavy rockers Wolves of Winter have secured a Nov. 1 release for their self-titled debut from NoSlip Records. Preorders are up now through the label and the album is streaming in full below. It was originally put out digitally by the band back in January, but their dudely chug and prevailing focus on songcraft led to their selling through a first pressing of self-released CDs and running off a second prior to this impending vinyl version — which will be limited to 500 copies spread across four different editions — no doubt a substantial portion of which are already gone or otherwise going.
The PR wire had art and details on the subject:
Wolves of Winter is a Stoner Rock trio based out of Phoenix, AZ. Their sound ranges from classic rock, to grunge, to stoner & doom and back again!
We will have four color variants with this release and they will be pressed on 180 Grams of virgin vinyl, they will be housed in a Gatefold Jacket with art from David Paul Seymour covering both inside panels, the cover art was done by Ghosttown Graphic Art.
The album was mastered by Jeff Harris, Jeff has worked with some greats such as Fleetwood Mac, Eagles and Supertramp, Jeff also worked on the audio crew for the classic Disney film Tron and is now the current lead instructor at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences.
Die Hard Edition: Transparent Cloudy Clear w/Heavy Purple Splatter. Comes with a Wolves Of Winter Embroidered Patch. Limited to 100 Presses. Obi Edition: Two Opaque Colors. Limited to 100 Presses. Band Edition: Transparent Purple. Limited to 180 Presses Classic Black: Limited to 120 Presses
Track Listing : A1. Astrothoughts A2. A New Reality A3. Tooth and Nail A4. Start of the Season A5. Blind Leading the Blind B1. Devil’s Kiss B2. Rubber Band B3. Child’s Reasoning B4. Manipulation B5. Try Till Dead
Josh McGee – Vocals, Guitar Mike Horn – Drums David Weaver – Bass
Posted in audiObelisk on September 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Tomorrow, Sept. 24, is the 25th anniversary of the release of Nirvana‘s generation-defining second album, Nevermind. Of course, the truth behind the narrative that that record single-handedly reshaped the rock and roll of its time is actually more complicated — even Nirvana were taking influence from Earth and the Melvins — but the level of impact is ultimately impossible to overstate because it’s still ringing out a quarter-century later. To wit, Phoenix, Arizona, trio Goya, in bringing in their new bassist Sonny DeCarlo, bonded over their collective experience with the music of the one-time Seattle forerunners, and the result was the recording of this new single, Drain You / D-7, which will be used as part of a split vinyl with Aneurysm, from Boston, later this year or early in 2017. For now, Goya — DeCarlo, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose — will release the songs digitally tomorrow via their own Opoponax Records imprint, to coincide with the aforementioned anniversary.
No doubt that if it’s not already the internet will be flooded with thinkpieces this weekend and for probably the next month waxing various levels of nostalgic about Nevermind, but let me just say that as someone just beginning to come of age at the time, it was legitimately a transformative moment. For me it wasn’t ever just about Nirvana — Alice in Chains, Primus, Metallica, C.O.C. played early roles — but they were certainly a factor, and the death of Kurt Cobain just three years later in 1994 was a moment at which a generation pulled together to mourn as a collective in a way that one hadn’t probably since John Lennon and wouldn’t again until David Bowie or Prince passed away — these huge figures of their times. Goya give due respect to the catchy punk of “Drain You” and the rawer “D-7” — itself a Wipers cover taken on by Nirvana as the B-side to the “Lithium” single — while remaining set with their own thicker tones as shown last year on their second full-length, Obelisk (review here) and earlier-2016’s The Enemy EP (review here).
In addition to the coming Goya/Aneurysm split that will contain these tracks, The Enemy will be released on vinyl Oct. 8 through STB Records. Both “Drain You” and “D-7” can be streamed on the player below, and under that, you’ll find a quote from the band about the making of the single and more info on the EP vinyl.
Goya will have a new album out in 2017.
Jeff Owens on Drain You / D-7:
Nirvana are a heavy influence on all three of us from our youth. There was a recent article calling Nirvana the most coverable band of all time, due to the simplicity and catchiness of their songs, and there’s certainly something to that. It’s easy to get bogged down with trying to do something “different”, or worrying that the notes you’re playing are too “predictable”, but we feel it’s important to listen to that inner voice telling you that the next note is obvious. Despite what some would have you believe, there’s nothing wrong with standard chord progressions, and that is one of the greatest strengths of Nirvana. Sometimes, a song writes itself, and there’s no reason to fight it or twist it. We all still consider ourselves fans of Nirvana, and we are all fans of basic chord progressions and a more punk approach to writing music, so it’s been a lot of fun for us putting this release together and playing these songs live, and we hope that that comes through in listening to them. And who knows? Maybe it will even have some sort of influence on our writing process as a three-piece in the future.
2016 marks Phoenix, Arizona-based stoner doom trio GOYA‘s fifth year as a band. After singer/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose recently recruited Sonny DeCarlo on bass, they wanted to get into the studio as quickly as possible to celebrate what they could bring together. Knowing that it takes time and care to craft original material, they decided to record a couple of covers for the time being. All three members grew up in the ‘90s, so the logical choice of band for them to cover was Nirvana, particularly with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind full-length on the horizon.
After only a few rehearsals together, they entered Switchblade Sound in Tempe, Arizona to track “Drain You” and “D-7? with long-time friend and ex-GOYA bassist, Joe Asselin, who recorded their last album, Obelisk. Though “D-7? is originally by ‘70s Portland punk band, Wipers, and was later covered by Nirvana, GOYA plays it in the true spirit of Nirvana. The tracks are mastered by Brad Boatright (Obituary, Sleep, Magrudergrind, Gatecreeper et al).
Their last EP, The Enemy, is being released through STB Records, who released their 2015 full length, “Obelisk”. Goya will be hitting the studio in the fall to record their follow-up to “Obelisk”, due in Spring 2017.
Goya have shared the stage with countless bands (Sleep, Windhand, Dead Meadow, Valkyrie, etc.), and have performed at Psycho Las Vegas, Southwest Terror Fest, and Day of the Shred. Having no plans to stop here, Goya are poised to extend their reach in 2017. The songs they are hitting the studio with in the fall show them to be pushing their sound further than ever before.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Arizona trio Goya aren’t at all far removed from the June release of their latest EP, Forever Dead, Forever Stoned, but they’ve already got a new offering in the works, this time taking on two tracks in homage to grunge gods Nirvana. Apparently something of a bonding point for the members of the band — children of the ’90s, arise! — the two cuts “Drain You” and “D-7” (the latter originally by Wipers) will be issued via Opoponax Records as Goya‘s half of a split vinyl with Boston’s Aneurysm later this year or early next. For now, Goya have “Drain You” streaming as a lead-in for their performance this weekend among the riffy throng at Psycho Las Vegas, and you can check it out below.
From the PR wire:
GOYA: Arizona-Based Stoner Doom Trio To Release Limited Edition, Two-Song Nirvana Tribute; Band To Play Psycho Las Vegas This Weekend
2016 marks Phoenix, Arizona-based stoner doom trio GOYA’s fifth year as a band. After singer/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose recently recruited Sonny DeCarlo on bass, they wanted to get into the studio as quickly as possible to celebrate what they could bring together. Knowing that it takes time and care to craft original material, they decided to record a couple of covers for the time being. All three members grew up in the ’90s, so the logical choice of band for them to cover was Nirvana, particularly with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind full-length on the horizon.
After only a few rehearsals together, they entered Switchblade Sound in Tempe, Arizona to track “Drain You” and “D-7” with long-time friend and ex-GOYA bassist, Joe Asselin, who recorded their last album, Obelisk. Though “D-7” is originally by ’70s Portland punk band, Wipers, and was later covered by Nirvana, GOYA plays it in the true spirit of Nirvana. The tracks are mastered by Brad Boatright (Obituary, Sleep, Magrudergrind, Gatecreeper et al).
These songs will be released through Owens’ label Opoponax Records on a limited-to-100 lathe cut seven-inch on Saturday, September 24th. The band will have a very limited amount for sale at their appearance at Psycho Las Vegas THIS WEEKEND. “Drain You” will also appear in late 2016 or early 2017 as GOYA’s half of a split 7″ with Boston punk unit, Aneurysm, also to be released by Opoponax Records.
[Please note: Press play above to stream Goya’s Obelisk in full. Album is out Aug. 1 on STB Records (CD & tape; LP to follow). Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the stream.]
Obelisk is the well-titled second full-length offering from Phoenix, Arizona, three-piece Goya. Set for release through respected purveyor STB Records, it follows 2013’s 777 debut and their initial 2012 demo (review here), as well as a 2014 EP, Satan’s Fire (review here), and an early 2015 split with Seattle’s Wounded Giant (review here) that found them dug deep into Electric Wizard-style plod on the extended “No Place in the Sky.” What was an early version of the track there is refined on Obelisk and given due reverence in its position as the 14-minute closer, following a swath of dirge riffing, devil-worship and malevolent churn.
I can’t quite decide if the album knows how much fun it’s having as it conjures its darkened chaos-swirl, but suffice it to say, a song like opener “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff” might not be a laugher in terms of its lyrics, but from the opening watery guitar provided by Jeff Owens (also vocals) that unfolds Oborn-again over the swinging ride of drummer Nick Lose — Jirix-Mie Paz plays bass on the record but seems to have since been replaced by Ben Clarkson — to the penultimate “Echo from Space” interlude of feedback before “No Place in the Sky” takes hold, it becomes abundantly clear that Goya are absolutely dug into the grooves of their own making and are enjoying the crap out of the heavy roll they enact across Obelisk‘s nine-track/55-minute span.
That being the case makes it much easier to follow suit. Goya have their variety in structure and approach — the aforementioned “Echo from Space” serves well as a late interlude, and the quiet ritualized vibe of “The Star” after second track “The Devil’s Pray” does likewise, while “300 Eyes” cuts to the heart of their songwriting with an acoustic modus and layered vocals and “The Sun,” which follows, is a standout for its speed alone — but the crux of Obelisk‘s overarching atmosphere and the impression it leaves resides in cuts like “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff,” “The Devil’s Prey,” “Beyond Good and Evil” and “No Place in the Sky,” Goya making a case to establish their own witchcult in bouncing riffs and Satanihilist vibing. Taken on their surface, these parts of Obelisk aren’t especially surprising — 777, Satan’s Fire, that Wounded Giant split and even the early demo carried a similar influence base, but it’s what the trio have managed to bring to it of their own that distinguishes their work.
To wit, the patience of the 7:46 title-track, “Obelisk,” becomes a defining moment for more than the simple fact that the song also shares its name with the album. Its slow unfurling is deceptively graceful, and while one hesitates to call Goya subtle since that doesn’t really seem to be what they’re going for, they’ve cleverly managed to begin a process whereby having mastered their influences, they’re starting to move beyond them. That’s not necessarily a one-album process, but if you listen to the shifts between “Obelisk,” “300 Eyes,” “The Sun” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” it becomes clear there’s more to the band’s approach than buzzsaw tones and space-echo vocals.
Not to say neither of those elements aren’t present and/or put to good use, just that they’re not exclusives for the band at this stage in their development. The effect that has is that when the quicker push of “The Sun” gives way to the lumbering, weighted crash of “Beyond Good and Evil,” the latter is all the more righteous. Likewise, back on side A, the gradual buildup of “Obelisk” is all the more worth appreciating after “The Devil’s Pray” and “The Star” lead into it — bottom line: the album isn’t short at 55 minutes, but it is impeccably structured to highlight Goya‘s tonal and conceptual strengths. When it comes around, “No Place in the Sky” fuzzes to life with Owens‘ guitar setting the pace and sets itself to the complex task of tying the various sides of Obelisk together.
Cohesive as the album is atmospherically — and it is — that’s not an easy task to ask of one song, even at 14 minutes. Still, “No Place in the Sky” reinforces the mood the band has worked with for the duration, the godlessness that served as theme in “The Devil’s Prey” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” and the rolling rhythms of those tracks and the opener without losing sight of making its own impression, which it does in the second half centering around memorable cycles through and around the line, “It doesn’t fucking matter.” I’m not sure the fuckall is quite the guiding principle the band would have the listener believe — if it was, they probably wouldn’t have paid so much attention to the flow of the record between its songs — but you gotta end somewhere and, as I say, “No Place in the Sky” makes for a memorable finish, rounding out its last minute with a slowdown and crash that lets the amp buzz carry Obelisk to its conclusion.
What will be a readily accessible listen for the already converted, Goya‘s second offers evidence of growth undertaken, provides glimpses of what might develop down the line, finds the band reveling in their processes and hits like a hammer made of pills. There is little one might ask of it that it does not deliver.
Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been listening to The Obelisk Radio a lot this week, particularly while starting to put together my top albums of 2014 list, so it seemed only appropriate to get a new round of adds up to the server. As we come to the end of the year, there’s always a slowdown in terms of releases, but if I had to put a number to it, I’d call it a 10, maybe 20 percent drop at most. If it was running water and you were looking at it, you’d notice no difference. A flood is still a flood.
As such, 14 records joined the server today. Some are recently reviewed, some aren’t out yet, some have been out for a little bit. It’s a solid batch of stuff, and if you haven’t yet had enough of lists — more to come, believe me — it’s worth a look at the Playlist and Updates Page. The amount of stuff on there is staggering. It’s a wonder the radio stream manages to fit in so much Clutch at all.
Let’s get to it.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 19, 2014:
Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Split LP
Two sides, one song from each band, each a massive slab of a jam. Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead and Liverpool’s Mugstar make a solid pairing, and by solid I definitely mean liquid, and by liquid I mean that’s what your brains will be by the time Mugstar‘s “Breathing Mirror” (18:42) and The Cosmic Dead‘s “Fukahyoocastulah” (25:51) are done. Instrumental in their entirety and jammed out on a subspace frequency that I only imagine they can already hear in the Delta Quadrant — and no doubt they’re wondering what the title of The Cosmic Dead‘s contribution means exactly — both cuts share an affinity for progressive heavy psych exploration, kosmiche and krautrock alike, but with a fresh take on the classic idea of we’re-gonna-get-in-a-room-and-this-is-what-happens that runs through, whether it’s in the drone midsection of “Breathing Mirror” after the jam has died down and before its resurgence, or the later reaches of “Fukayoocastulah,” which rest on the nigh-eternal bassline that’s steady enough to hold the course despite the various effects freakouts, slow swirls and experiments happening around it. About 45 minutes solid of primo heavy jamming? Sign me up. Mugstar’s website, on Bandcamp, The Cosmic Dead on Thee Faceboks, on Bandcamp.
Goya, Satan’s Fire
Eleven-minute opener “Malediction and Death” makes its primary impression in its consuming tonality — a harsh but encompassing low end that emerges out of the initial cavalcade of feedback starting the song. The first three minutes of “Malediction and Death” are noise before Phoenix’s Goya kick in their riff, drums and vocals, sounding as huge on the Satan’s Fire EP as on their preceding split with Wounded Giant (review here) but perhaps even more malevolent as they continue to find their place within wizard doom, marked out by the two-at-once solo shredding of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the lurching rhythm behind him and the swing of drummer Nick Lose, whose snare punctuates “Malediction and Death” like a life-preserver tossed into the abyss. Unsurprisingly, they end noisy. “Symbols” picks up with two minutes of sparse, atmospheric drumming, and the title-track (5:58) finishes with a tale of antichristianity, dropping out of life, and watching the world fall apart. Doom? Yes. Perhaps not as patient as “Malediction and Death,” “Satan’s Fire” itself offers suitable heat, and delivered through amps that likewise sound about ready to melt, provides a memorable impression even beyond its Oborn-style hook. Goya on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Somewhere between classic doom and more aggressive, hardcore punk-derived noise, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are the kind of band who could probably release nothing but 7″ singles for the next five years and still make a go of it. As it stands, their self-titled debut offers a stirring rawness in the dual guitars that reminds there’s more ways to make an impact tonally than just with volume or fuzz. Their roots are in punk, and that’s plain enough to hear in lead guitarist Cody Stieg‘s vocals on songs like “Light” and “Lust,” but “Haze” nestles into a stoner groove late that suits Attalla well, and the later “Veil” offers charged propulsion in the drums of Aaron Kunde, whose snare sound is tinny but fitting with the sans-frills stylings of Stieg, rhythm guitarist Brian Hinckley and bassist Bryan Kunde. Some variation in tempo throughout changes things up, but a particularly triumphant moment comes with the raw Slayer-esque foreboding (think slow Slayer) that begins “Doom,” a fitting closer to Attalla‘s Attalla with its subtly complex stylistic blend and relatively barebones presentation. I’m not sure where Attalla go from here in terms of developing their sound, but the debut offers reason enough to want to find out. Attalla on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
If you played me TarLung‘s TarLung debut full-length and told me the trio were from North Carolina, I’d undoubtedly believe you. In fact, they hail from Vienna, Austria, but just so happen to have the Southern sludge ideology nailed down on their first offering. Roots in Crowbar and Eyehategod and Sourvein can be heard throughout, big nod, harsh vocals, weighted plod. The guitars of Rotten and Phillipp “Five“ Seiler (the latter also vocals) brings in some of that Pepper Keenan-style Southern riffing, on “Last Breath” particularly, but the bulk of what they and drummer Marian Waibl get up to on these seven tracks is rawer and nastier, the album’s last three cuts — “Apeplanet,” “Black Forest” and “Space Caravan” — providing the best glimpse at TarLung‘s effective aesthetic interpretation. Tonally and methodologically sound, what remains for them to do is hone a more individualized approach, but particularly for a self-released first album, the crisp harshness they convey on the centerpiece “C2” — a kind of maddening high pitch running throughout — satisfies when taken on its own level, and among the three-piece’s assets, their lack of pretense will no doubt serve them well moving forward. TarLung on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Gangrened, We are Nothing
Proffering lurching, aggressive sludge over three tracks arranged longest to shortest, Finnish trio Gangrened conjure sweeping chaos on We are Nothing, blatantly contradicting the title of the release despite whatever riff-laden nihilism might be at work philosophically. Among the most telling moments on the release — which follows a split tape from the four piece of vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, guitarist/bassist Andreas Österlund, guitarist Jon Imbernon and drummer Owe Inborr, who’ve since traded out their rhythm section — is the opening sample of “Them” in which a man in a Southern US accent rants in paranoid rage about helicopters flying over his property, indicative of some conspiracy or other. In both their influence and their execution, that fits Gangrened‘s overall portrayal well, but both the 12-minute opener “Lung Remover” and closing semi-Black Flag cover “Kontti” (translated “24 Pack” and a feedback-soaked, sludged-up play on “Six Pack”) are pissed off enough to warrant the attention they seem to be demanding in their noisy charge, snail-paced and malevolent as it is. Gangrened on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
As always, this is just a fraction of what was added to The Obelisk Radio today. If you get the chance to check any of this stuff out, I hope you dig it, and if you decide to launch the player, I hope whatever’s playing is awesome.
Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Phoenix duo Goya and Seattle’s Wounded Giant make fitting partners. Their new split 12″ on STB Records finds them distinct enough to be immediately distinguished one from the other, but still with enough in common in their proliferation of plus-sized riffery not to be mismatched. In the case of Goya, the split follows their late-2013 full-length debut, 777, and the preceding 2012 demo (review here), and the (now) duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose have already seen fit to issue a follow-up EP, released Dec. 9, called Satan’s Fire. Their inclusion is the 14-minute plodder “No Place in the Sky,” where Wounded Giant deliver two tracks, “The Room of the Torch” and “Dystheist,” totaling a minute less. The Seattle three-piece of bassist Dylan A. Rogers, guitarist/vocalist Bobby James and drummer Alex Bytnar put out their debut full-length, Lightning Medicine, last year and supported it with an appearance at this year’s Hoverfest in Portland, Oregon. All told, the split is a 27-minute showcase for two up-and-coming acts who by all accounts have their sounds together and who’ve been met with no shortage of “whoa no shit heavy riffs bro!”-type hyperbole. Fair enough.
STB‘s endorsement is noteworthy in itself. The label has rightfully earned a reputation over the last two years for both its ear and the quality of its vinyl product. I don’t think they’ve put anything out that hasn’t been gone shortly thereafter, and releases from Ancient Warlocks, Geezer, Curse the Son and Druglord have put them on the map as a considerable presence in American underground heavy proffering a new wave of stoner rock in which it seems only right to count Goya and Wounded Giant as participants. The former are granted side A of the split, and they use their time wisely, “No Place in the Sky” building from a fade-in of feedback fuzz to a languid march that takes hold in full tone at 1:40. Their album and new EP are less so, but Goya‘s demowas almost singly indebted sonically to Electric Wizard, bringing a rawer feel to the Witchcult Today style, and “No Place in the Sky” works in a similar vein, its rhythmic swing and Owens‘ buried-under-a-wall-of-distortion echoing vocals both seem to be culled from Jus Oborn‘s book of spells. They’re hardly the only band out there at this point working under that influence, and they bring more to the presentation than many on “No Place in the Sky,” which lumbers through verse and chorus hooks en route to a bridge of Iommic layered soloing that very subtly hints at the level of construction at work in their sound. Their songwriting, likewise, finds a sense of accomplishment in returning after that jam to the verse and chorus — the lines “It doesn’t really matter/Nothing fucking matters” standing out — before jamming its way into oblivion and a finish of over a minute solid of sustained amp hum and feedback. Take that, ears.
Classic metal is the first vibe Wounded Giant give off on “The Room of the Torch” (7:07), James‘ guitar riffing out a declaration reminiscent of Iron Maiden, but that’s really only part of the story. Half-time drums give the beginnings of Wounded Giant‘s first inclusion a nod of its own with a punchy bassline and an emergent, airy lead that adds to the languid feel. A slowdown before two minutes in marks the transition into a doomier verse — not quite as Wizardly as Goya, but that’s still a factor — with shouts echoing over downer riffs that pick up to a more upbeat thrust of a chorus. The back and forth plays out until shortly before five minutes in, Bytnar‘s kick, double-kick only seconds before, provides the shift to the faster progression serving as the apex of the track. Like Goya, they rein it back in to finish out, albeit more subtly with just a slowdown instrumental reference to the verse riff that gives way to fading feedback and start of “Dystheist” (6:08), which sounds like a crowd shout but is gone soon enough into neo-burly chugging and more restrained vocals, compressed and following the riff. A more open chorus arrives underscored by more double-kick and a metallic feel met head-on with heavy rock tonality, the flourish of the preceding cut stripped away in favor of a more forward attack, which Wounded Giant handle well. A rawer shout, almost a scream, finishes the chorus and that will be the endpoint of “Dystheist” as well on the second cycle through — the structure no less frill-less than the sound, capping the split in strong, commanding form.
As the goal of the release, already noted, is to highlight what Goya and Wounded Giant have going sonically and to keep their momentum in motion, I see no way in which the split doesn’t meet that target. Both Goya‘s track and Wounded Giant‘s tracks deliver heavy-hitting, solid genre-minded executions and, paired up, they offer each band’s quickly-massing audience to encounter the other, which, you know, is the whole idea. The temptation with splits is always to pit one act against the other, to determine a “winner” like they’re in competition. Fine. That’s a lot of fun, but truth be told, nobody here loses, and it doesn’t seem like Goya or Wounded Giant have any interest in duking it out so much as allying themselves to further their individual causes. Score one for riff diplomacy.